XVCD – Part 2
One of the most attractive features of XVCD is the fact that it’s a format that doesn’t really exist in specifications but comes out of practical experience of low-cost Chinese-built DVD players.
It seems these manufacturers don’t really care too much for the exact letter of DVD/VCD specifications and go with the “spirit” of the specs instead. And that’s one of the major reasons why these budget players handle out-of-spec discs.
Now first up, I must stress that XVCD discs don’t work with every budget player. So far, my success rate is about two-in-three but I’ve found a number of tricks that can make for some brilliant results:
1) 80min CD-Rs can handle 830MB of video thanks to their non-use of CD error correction code
2) XVCDs can use variable bit rate MPEG1 video, which greatly improves quality and storage efficiency
3) You can use almost any frame size from 320×240 to 720×576 provided it’s a 4:3 aspect ratio
This last point will sound quite astonishing to those who are used to the fixed frame sizes of DVD. In fact, this factor is more akin to MPEG4 videos played on a PC rather than a video disc format. However, I’ve built XVCD discs that playback in an old Dick Smith Electronics $89 DVD player that have a frame size of 512×384-pixels!
Now with only 830MB of storage to play with, the video results of an XVCD aren’t going to match the MPEG2 video quality available on a 4.7GB DVD – that’s impossible – but they do come darn close. You’ll notice the difference particularly on larger screen TVs. If you have an older 48cm CRT TV or a portable DVD player with a screen of 12-inches or less, you’re going to struggle to tell the difference in terms of video quality. That’s simply because any compression/block errors are so small, your eyes just won’t see them.
So how much can you fit to an 80min CD-R? From my tests, you can get roughly 90-mins of widescreen video and 60mins of 16:9-anamorphic or 4:3 aspect ratio video to a disc at 720×576-pixels. Remember the original VCD specs is 74mins of 352×288-pixel video so either way, this is a significant improvement.
Next time, we’ll look at the tools you’ll need to put these discs together and try out for yourself. And yes, these tools are free.
- XVCD – DVD video on CD-R media
- DVD-Audio – how to make your own discs – part 1
- Q&A – Samsung Media@2.0 playing 16:9 video as 4:3. Is this right?
- 10 free video converters for Windows
- Q&A – How many hours video can I get onto one DVD?
- PC User December 2008 – Creating your own HD movies on DVD
- Four free little-known uses for DVD-R
- Q&A – Will I be able to watch movies on the iPad?
- How to rip DVD movies and play them on your netbook
- Q&A – How do I get movies onto a USB flash drive?